After five years in Fort Nelson, the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT) has been forced to close its doors after the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) did not renew the group’s contract for another year.
Mayor Bill Streeper says the municipality has decided to operate their own environmental programming.
“We are going to operate that type of a program ourselves,” said Streeper, who said they wanted to make it more localized.
“We can deal directly with the person dealing with the program now, where we see things need to be done. We don’t have to go through the Fort St. John aspect at all.”
He added that the decision was not a reflection on the quality of work they did in the area, “but now we can be completely local ... especially on the education part.”
Three years ago, the environmental group started a recycling program in the northern community, the first of it’s kind.
“Before we got there, there was no recycling in Fort Nelson for household items,” said NEAT spokesperson Tammy Hrab. That program was taken over by the Multi-Material BC, a non-profit group that implements recycling services in B.C. communities.
“Now they have regular recycling in the area, which is actually great,” said Hrab. “I think it got their attention that there were things that needed to change and that their residents were interested in doing those things, which was great. We’re all about awareness.”
Some of NEAT’s other initiatives included Idle-less October, school visits, clothing drives, and Clean Up, Green Up Fort Nelson, some of which were sponsored by companies in the community.
NEAT employs one full-time staff member in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, who was until this past Tuesday running an office out of the NRRM complex. Although they’ve now moved out of the office, Hrab said they’re still employed by NEAT for now.
The organization's offices in Fort St. John, Chetwynd and Dawson Creek are handled through a contract with the Peace River Regional District.
Hrab added the organization is still willing to work in the northern area.
“If somebody wanted us for other initiatives outside of the municipality we are available for those too, working with the school district and other groups,” she said. “We enjoyed the time and the partnerships and the community in Fort Nelson, and we wish them the best of luck.”